Democratic Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer Proposes $135 Billion for Rural Broadband

Multichannel News reports (and Benton summarizes)…

As part of his just-announced “Partnership with Rural Communities,” Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer has proposed a massive rural broadband connectivity program that includes $135 billion in investment and “protecting” municipal and co-op broadband networks. “The modern economy is a knowledge economy,” Steyer’s plan points out. “Full participation in commerce depends on reliable, fast, affordable access to the Internet. However, 39% of rural residents do not have access to high speed wireless as Internet Service Providers fail to serve rural populations, despite receiving large government subsidies as an incentive.” Specifically, Steyer would:

  1. Protect the rights of local governments and not-for-profit organizations, including cooperatives, to build their own networks.
  2. Mobilize $135 billion in Rural Utilities Service grants and loans alongside private investment for broadband, fiber and next generation networks. [RUS money is dispensed by the Department of Agriculture, not the FCC].
  3. Target 60% of the $135 billion in new funding to disadvantaged communities, with at least 10% of the funds set aside to improve connectivity on tribal lands and at least 20% of funds directed to minority-majority communities, including Southern communities of color; and require investor-owned ISPs that receive federal grant funds to subsidize service to low-income residents to end the digital divide.
  4. Appoint FCC commissioners who support net neutrality.

Steyer’s plan did not say where the money was coming from.

This entry was posted in Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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